The American population is changing—and that means important shifts for long term care, too. When we hit the mid-century mark, caregivers and communities will be working with a population that looks very different from what we see today.
Consider these pertinent facts about the future of senior living.
The Number of 65+ Citizens Is Growing Rapidly
The senior population is currently getting larger than it has ever been—and it will continue to grow for years to come. The 65+ population is predicted to reach 83.7 million in 2050—nearly double the number of seniors living in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The first baby boomers turned 65 in 2011, and this is considered to be the main reason for the growth. Eighty-nine percent of assisted living residents are over the age of 65, so there will likely be an enormous trend towards more residents, more beds, and more assisted living communities in the years ahead.
The Oldest Seniors Are Significantly Increasing in Numbers
The oldest seniors will impact LTC resident numbers as well. More than half of assisted living residents today are age 85 and up, and experts predict more than triple the amount of 85+ citizens by the year 2050 (from 5.7 million to 17.9 million). Today, Americans have the longest life expectancy ever reported, and many of these older adults will require the services offered by assisted living and skilled nursing care.
People Are Working Longer and Retiring Later
The National Institutes on Aging reports that the number of men and women over age 60 who are still in the workforce has increased over the last 20 years. Many of these adults have elderly parents, and may be unable to care for them while working outside the home. Long term care will become an important resource for these families.
Fall Prevention Efforts Will Continue to Be a Critical Focus for LTC
Nursing home residents often have more health problems than the seniors in the general population do. As a result, they tend to fall more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the combination of frailty, chronic health problems, trouble walking, and cognitive or memory problems all put LTC residents at a higher risk of falling. With the number of nursing home residents anticipated to double by the year 2030, LTC communities will be charged with implementing the most effective fall prevention efforts. With a higher number of residents, it will be useful to look at avoiding repeat falls and reducing the percentage of residents who fall.
LTC Communities Can Make a Dramatic Difference
These significant changes in our population mean LTCs' roles in our country will be greater than ever before. It’s an enormous responsibility—and privilege—that can improve the lives of millions of people. The quality of the care provided by LTC communities will impact more families and more individuals, and a larger proportion of all citizens in general. Providing the safest and most compassionate care will ensure that the seniors and their loved one—today and in the future—enjoy healthy, happy lives.
The time to provide exceptional care to LTC residents is now. Evaluate your quality control efforts, and look for ways to strengthen and refine them. Be vigilant about quality today so that your community will be prepared for the considerable increase in demand that lies ahead.